PHOENIX (AP) -The Colorado Rockies figured adding speedy center fielder Willy Taveras to the lineup was worth the risk.
Taveras, who missed the last three weeks of the season and the Rockies' three-game sweep of Philadelphia in the playoffs with a strained calf, was activated from the disabled list and batted leadoff against Arizona in Game 1 of the NL championship series Thursday night.
That bumped Kaz Matsui to the No. 2 spot and Rookie of the Year hopeful Troy Tulowitzki to seventh.
During Taveras' absence, Matsui led off, Tulowitzki hit second and the Rockies roared into the NL championship series by winning 17 of 18.
Their only loss in that stretch was to Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb, who started Game 1 against Jeff Francis.
Ryan Spilborghs, who hit .299 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs, had been starting in center.
So, why risk messing with the momentum?
``Well, I think our main objective tonight is to find a way to beat the Diamondbacks and provide some challenges for Brandon Webb,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. ``And Willy's had some success against Webb. Kaz is comfortable and familiar in the No. 2 slot. Tulowitzki has hit in the 7-slot. He provides great protection for (Brad) Hawpe there.
Taveras is 7-for-17 in his career against Webb for a .412 batting average. Of all the Rockies, only Matsui's .423 career average against Arizona's ace is better.
This is the lineup the Rockies envisioned coming out of spring training, one that Hurdle didn't get to use very often because of various injuries to Taveras and Matsui.
``It's another barrel to the bat. It lengthens our lineup, stretches it out, provides more challenges from top to bottom,'' Hurdle said. ``So, it's not like it's an unfamiliar lineup that we're putting out there.''
Taveras convinced his coaches he was ready with a stint at the instructional league, where Arizona rookie right-hander Micah Owings accidentally plunked him on Monday while getting some work in before his next start in Game 4 of this series.
``I knew he was down there getting some ABs,'' said Owings, who didn't realize Taveras was the one he had hit until later. ``I definitely didn't do it on purpose.''
Taveras, who reached the playoffs with the Houston Astros in 2005, batted .320 with two homers, 24 RBIs and a team-best 33 steals in 97 games for Colorado.
Despite being missing 66 games, Taveras led the majors with 37 bunt hits and 54 infield hits.
Taveras took the roster spot of left-hander Mark Redman, leaving the Rockies with 11 pitchers. Hurdle said he felt comfortable with his bullpen, which allowed just one earned run in 11 2-3 innings against Philadelphia.
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